IT Asset Monitoring: A Quickstart Manual

IT asset monitoring is the practice of monitoring an enterprise’s IT assets, including hardware, software, and cloud. Closely related to asset monitoring or asset management, asset monitoring solutions capture and log information about tangible assets. Asset monitoring solutions are empowering IT teams to monitor the status and location of all assets.

This article will cover the basics of IT asset monitoring, including:

  • IT Asset MonitoringThe differences between asset monitoring and asset management.
  • The benefits and advantages of using asset monitoring solutions.
  • An overview of features and capabilities to look for in asset monitoring software.

IT asset monitoring is considered a part of IT asset management (ITAM), a broader discipline that covers how enterprises manage the entire lifecycle of IT assets. Another closely related discipline is asset tracking. ITAM helps IT teams with everything from asset procurement to employee onboarding to patching and maintenance, auditing and compliance, and, finally, retirement.

There are two basic types of asset monitoring software (and also asset tracking software); “presence-based” and “usage-based.” Presence-based monitoring focuses on the location of a specific asset or device. Increasingly, this covers cloud computing infrastructure locations because organizational and legal compliance may be tied to verifying the physical location of data or infrastructure, even when it is in the cloud. Usage-based monitoring examines usage patterns to understand consumption and identify anomalies or events that merit further examination – for example, if an executive logs into a machine at three in the morning, something she has never done before.

After reading this article, you should have a good grasp of how asset monitoring solutions fit into the It landscape, how they relate to IT asset management (ITAM), and what features you should ask for and expect in modern, robust asset monitoring software solutions.

The Difference Between IT Asset Monitoring and Asset Management

IT asset monitoring is actually a subset of asset management. Monitoring IT assets fall into two disciplines inside an organization. IT teams monitor assets for compliance purposes, to understand usage trends, and to verify that assets are online, operational, and functioning properly. Security teams use asset monitoring to verify that assets are not exhibiting anomalous behaviors, are not being accessed in unexpected locations or via unexpected networks, and are not violating company security policies. Both disciplines rely on asset monitoring to verify the security and patch status of assets connected to corporate networks or managed by the corporation. This increasingly includes BYOD assets, home networking equipment, and WiFI, and personal laptops or tablets used to engage with work systems.

There are a number of key differences between asset management monitoring and asset monitoring systems.

Asset monitoring focuses primarily on monitoring asset location and status. Asset management covers the entire lifecycle of assets, from purchase and procurement to onboarding into IT systems to assignment to employees to retirement or end of life.

In asset monitoring, IT teams track physical devices by scanning barcodes or by using RFID or GPS tags that broadcast location data. IT teams also use SSO or software agents to track usage and ownership of non-physical assets like software, SaaS, and cloud servers. In asset management, teams are often relying on other systems to provide data for management tasks.

Asset monitoring may be a standalone portion of asset management – CMDBs, UEMs, and other product types all have a strong asset monitoring component.

The Benefits of IT Asset Monitoring

There are numerous clear benefits to asset monitoring, ranging from theft prevention to improved clarity of consumption to faster compliance and audit completion. As we witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, remoting asset monitoring is now essential for maintaining security, compliance, and service quality. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rapid increase in the type and number of connected assets requiring monitoring, asset monitoring of IoT has become a first-order concern and priority. Here are some of the specific benefits of asset monitoring:

  • Improved incident response and resolution by more quickly finding the location, status, and owner of an assets.
  • Reduction of theft of IT assets (hardware, software) by actively monitoring asset location and status.
  • Improved security through better patching and system status monitoring by actively tracking and remediating patch and security requirements.
  • Analytical insights into IT asset usage and consumption trends.
    Enhanced compliance (geographic and network attachment) and more rapid or automated completion of compliance and audit processes.
  • Improved security stance through the ability to monitor for anomalous behavior, status, location or network presence.
  • Compliance of hard-to-track, constantly shifting cloud infrastructure components.

 

More broadly, asset monitoring makes it easier to manage and maintain securely and efficiently a hybrid IT infrastructure that mixes and matches a wider variety of asset types and workforce status, including BYOD, cloud infrastructure, SaaS, trusted contractors/freelancers, work-from-home or remote, and more types of connected devices and systems. Asset monitoring software helps enterprises to ensure compliance with a widening array of regulations and laws such as SOC2, ISO 27001, GDPR, and CCPA, as well as older regulations that remain challenging, including PCI DSS and HIPAA.

Oomnitza’s Unique Benefits for IT Asset Monitoring

Selecting an asset monitoring solution merits careful consideration and comparison. There are dozens of solutions on the marketplace, ranging from very basic products and open source offerings to complicated and integrated enterprise offerings that might cost six or seven figures per year. Here is a quick rundown on features that you may want to consider to ensure your asset monitoring software does what you want.

Integrated design

Good asset monitoring solutions can easily pull in data from multiple sub-systems and integrate data into a single source of truth for monitoring.

Full asset lifecycle

Asset monitoring software should be able to monitor assets from the minute they enter the custody of your IT team until they are fully decommissioned. The best asset monitoring systems can automatically populate asset data via vendor APIs to remove nearly all manual work recording data into the monitoring database.

Accurate

Asset monitoring solutions can reconcile and dedupe all asset data to establish trust in monitoring efforts.

Platform agnostic

Monitors equally well across all types of assets, including hardware, software, cloud infrastructure, and SaaS. Works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and ChromeOS systems.

Extensible

Good asset monitoring systems have built-in connectors and APIs that are easy to use to integrate with other systems without requiring specialized contractors or builds.

Configurable

Smart asset monitoring systems make it easy to quickly adapt or change workflows to incorporate new data sources, new data fields, or other new parameters

Easy to use

Today enterprise tools are expected to have consumer-grade user experiences. Clunky UX for a monitoring system will not endear you to IT teams or other stakeholders that must use the tool.

Cloud-based

The world is moving to the cloud, and having traditional software that must be installed on hardware or virtual infrastructure as your asset monitoring will likely slow down your pace of innovation and make deployments more challenging. Cloud asset monitoring is also generally easier when you are using cloud-based tools.

This is just an overview of feature considerations. Your specific organizational needs may vary but consider the above as you build out your purchasing and consideration process for IT asset tracking for your organization.

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